Monday 26 October 2020 5:45 am

High-flying City figures to be exempt from quarantine rules

City dealmakers, hedge fund managers and executives flying into the UK are set to be exempt from the current 14-day quarantine period in a bid to “promote global Britain”, according to reports.

Fresh guidelines being drawn up by the government would see the fortnight self-isolation period scrapped for senior bankers, hedge fund managers and executives involved in high-value deals, the Sunday Times reported.

Currently, only a short list of essential workers are exempt from the quarantine requirement, including sewage workers, the armed forces, and people who commute weekly overseas.

Business secretary Alok Sharma yesterday said he is “sympathetic” to an exemption for top City figures who regularly fly in and out of the UK, as the government seeks to “promote global Britain” ahead of the Brexit transition period deadline on 31 December.

It comes as ministers are drawing up plans to overhaul quarantine rules over fears the current guidelines are not being followed. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to have ordered Downing Street’s coronavirus taskforce to outline fresh guidelines that will slash the isolation period to a maximum of 10 days, with the regular isolation period cut to seven days. 

Johnson was told that the 14-day period was a “barrier” to the public’s compliance with the rules, with the government’s private polling suggesting people are willing to self-isolate for a maximum of seven days.

It comes amid mounting concern within Tory backbencher circles about the effectiveness of the UK’s Test and Trace system, after official statistics showed just 63 per cent of people who came into contact with the virus were reached by contact tracers last week.

Lucy Powell, the shadow business minister, slammed the government for prioritising City figures in its redraft of the quarantine rules.

“It beggars belief that ministers are focusing on bending the rules for high net worth individuals rather than fixing their broken test, track, trace and isolate system,” Powell told the Times.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that “any changes that are made will apply to everybody”.